Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday Cricket Lessons with Baig Sir

After years, Baig sir finally saw the results of his hard work. Kartikeya Kak, who came to learn the ropes as a young school kid almost a decade ago when he came to Hyderabad on holidays from Kenya, and one in whom Baig sir invested as much time and energy simply because Kartik would pick up what he said and would work honestly and sincerely at it. We watched him grow, play league matches, perform well for the league and the University and finally get picked for the state. His selection would always be a mystery - despite match winning performances against top teams, he would not find a place. In the last couple of years his non-selection disheartened Baig sir so much that he would always mention his selection and wonder why he was coaching still.

So when Kartik got an opportunity to play for the Hyderabad Under 22 team (where he was fourth standby despite having played for the senior team last year and go four wickets in the ODI) and got four wickets, there was some joy. It quickly dissipated when he was dropped for the next two games. Then he was played and he picked up 8 wickets and 7 wickets in the match against Karnataka  and earned Hyderabad an unlikely win over a tough opponent. This is easily one of the best match winning performances I have heard of in the past many years for Hyderabad at any level. He followed that up with another five against Assam yesterday. Finally, Baig saab smiled yesterday. And to top it all Kartik, in his interview to Times of India attributed his success to Baig sir.

Today while talking about preparation, I was telling the young trainees that mental preparation is pretty much like the two wolves story. I told them the two wolves story - of the two wolves inside them which were fighting and asked them who would win. When I told them that the wolf that they fed more would win they nodded their head. Of course, I had to make sure they understood the gist and told them that what they feed their wolves is their thoughts. If they feed stuff like - I am not good enough, the world is not fair, they are all bad etc the bad wolf will get stronger. On the contrary, if you feed stuff like - I am good, I can handle this, the world is fair etc you will feed the good wolf. In fact, even if they did not feed the good wolf, it would be a start if they stopped thinking negative thoughts and stayed in neutral space.

What we bring to practice or to a match is our energy. It had to be undiluted. The moment we start thinking of stuff like this which is not in our hands or which is useless, we are dividing the intensity of our energy. We need to get our complete focus, full energy when we are playing. It needs some serious mental discipline, mental practice.

They all nodded. Mary asked a question. 'But sir, we put in so much effort but sometimes it does not happen?'. I was thankful that she innocently asked a question that validated what I was saying. I told Mary that there is no point saying it aloud that 'I am trying so hard, and it is not happening.' The more you say it, the harder that belief becomes, and the more the belief becomes firmer, the more excuses you will find not to make your r0aality happen. So it is better not to say this even if you feel it. 'Don't feed the bad wolf.' Instead, think in this direction  - how do I make this happen? If you have no clue, ask the Coach, ask friends but learn how to make that happen.

It will happen by making it happen. Not by saying it's not happening despite your best efforts. Find a way.

All champions find a way through the many difficulties. The road to the top will not happen without any tests. Be prepared for the battles. Save your energy.

To connect it back to Kartik, I have never seen or heard him speak ill of anyone or complain about his non-selection. ll he did to counter his disappointment was to practice harder and to keep performing. It's important to carry a good attitude, a good energy to the dressing room, to be an asset even if you are not playing. That's how doors open. 

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